Far-right pseudo historian David Barton is known for having some creative ideas on history, but late last week, the conservative media personality broke some new ground.
…Barton explained that women were not given the right to vote when the Constitution was written because the Founding Fathers were trying to protect the institution of the family by giving every “family” a right to vote through the male head of the household.Responding to a question from a listener who argued that the Founding Fathers denied women the right to vote not out of sexism but rather based on the biblical principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand, Barton said that this interpretation was exactly right because not allowing women to vote was designed “to keep the family together.”
There’s one small problem with this: Barton, as is too often the case, is wrong.
There’s literally nothing in the historical record to support the notion that voting rights were deliberately limited to men – or more accurately, white men – to “keep the family together.” Women, rather, were denied the right to vote until 1920 because men in power saw them as incapable.
That said, Barton’s odd argument is alarming to the extent that he seems to be suggesting that denying women voting right may have some familial value.
“Now, as we’ve moved away from the family unit – you need to be independent from the family, don’t be chained down and be a mother and don’t be chained down and be a father and don’t be chained down to your parents, you know, we’ve moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the ‘Modern Family’ kind of portrayal – that understanding has gone away,” he told listeners to his radio show.
So does that mean one-family-one-vote is a worthwhile model in Barton’s mind?
As for why anyone would care what a fact-challenged pseudo historian has to say about women’s voting rights, Scott Martelle explained:
So why should we care about a fringe figure spouting patently and provably false versions of American history? Because people listen to him. His past endorsers include Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, and his “The Jefferson Lies” book of purported history was a New York Times bestseller before critiques of the flawed research led publisher Thomas Nelson to withdraw the book from the marketplace.
There are a surprising number of prominent conservatives who take Barton seriously. What a shame.